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Picturing 10 Urban Qualities Every City Should Have

Wood-framed storefronts, natural-seeming water features, commercial porches and more.
relates to Picturing 10 Urban Qualities Every City Should Have
Chuck Wolfe

In recent months, architect friends have explained how several post-Recesssion projects focus sustainability goals on the end-user experience, rather than simply pursue  flagship "green" designations. It seems there is a commendable and renewed emphasis on the particular needs of building use, and, significantly,  the specifics of  a building user’s relationship to the surrounding urban area.

I see this as a tilt to the qualitative aspects of the urban experience—an approach I believe should stay as a lynchpin of evolving urbanism.

I find that when writing outside of the confines of my day job as a lawyer, I usually pursue these qualitative aspects. I like to emphasize the impressionistic and, essentially more ethereal, emotional "bookmarks" of experiences in cities around the world. By and large, these bookmarks recall modern expressions of traditional urban life. Together, they are a useful summary of evolving human experience in the city.

As background to work on my forthcoming book, I itemized and illustrated several of these more qualitative bookmarks while traveling last year. Here is the result.

Spontaneous competition in simple places


The aspects of the city that avoid rigid regularity are among the most interesting and memorable. Here, an empty storefront provides the stage for competing glass providers to advertise with several different labels. Commercial needs drive unpredictable results in even the simplest of situations.

Signage with a direct message